28 April 2005 Edition
Remember Bobby Sands
On Thursday 5 May the electorate of the Six Counties is being asked to vote in the Westminster and local government elections. The result will be hundreds of councillors and several MPs elected.
One such man who was elected to the position of MP in 1981 was Bobby Sands. In 1981, in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, Bobby commenced a hunger strike for political status. He died along with nine other prisoners: Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine.
In October 1981, having shown the British establishment that the Irish republican freedom struggle could not be criminalised, no matter how the British tried, the prisoners called off the strike. Within one year of the ending, the Hunger Strikers' demands were met, proving to the world that these men were involved in a legitimate struggle against British imperialism.
On 5 May 24 years ago, Bobby Sands MP died after 66 days on Hunger Strike. His spirit lives on many years later. It is for people like Bobby that we continue and will win the fight for Irish freedom.
So 24 years later, you the electorate are being asked to vote for your MP. While some of the circumstances may be different, many things are still the same. The British presence is still in our country, the British establishment is still trying to criminalise our struggle and just as they failed in 1981, they will fail in 2005.
So when you are in the polling booth, think of how the people defeated the criminalisation policy when they elected Bobby Sands as their MP in 1981, think of how once more you can help defeat this policy by voting for Sinn Féin.
West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin.
Why is it that every time Gerry Adams as President of Sinn Féin makes a statement with the intention of cranking up the Peace Process, it is without fail dissected and rubbished by hostile unionists and their allies, who can offer nothing positive as a way forward and show no intention or are incapable of doing otherwise.
Gerry Adams has shown his mettle on a number of occasions in relation to the Peace Process, overcoming various hurdles, including the continuous moving of the goalposts. He has still had the courage to take enormous risks, the latest urging the IRA to embrace purely political and democratic means as the way forward.
Surely this reinforces the pedigree of a man already on a mission to secure a lasting peace (which is difficult when dealing with people who have a predetermined view of others) in this divided land of ours. This is what showing leadership is all about.
Nationalists and republicans have in Gerry Adams their Irish version of Nelson Mandela.
Where are unionism's leaders and their allies? Planning the next precondition?
Normally, when southern establishment politicians refer to 'Ireland' or 'this country', they mean just the 26 Counties. However, within the past weeks, a motley collection of political leaders, ranging from soft left to hard right, have made one of their very rare sorties north of the border to campaign against Sinn Féin in the imminent elections.
If these political tourists had been genuinely concerned about the nationalist people of the North, they would surely have ventured north at times when nationalist people were under attack, eg at Harryville Church, Holy Cross School or Garvaghy Road, or even spoken out about the vicious campaign of collusion between the RUC/FRU and loyalist killer gangs, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of nationalists.
But, as Justice Barron's report on the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings revealed, they did not even care much about collusion in the worst atrocity of the troubles on their own doorstep.
The only genuine concern they seem to have in common is fear of the rise of Sinn Féin in the 26 Counties. It follows, then, that the best way to encourage southern politicians to take a more sustained, positive interest in the north and to force Fianna Fail to move away from the aggressive pro-unionist stance of Mr McDowell, is to vote in large numbers for the only all-Ireland party which will be competing with Fianna Fail for votes in subsequent southern elections.
Tara and the M3
I would like to use a word which would have been alien when Teamhar was our capital. The word is Nation, an English word strange not only in its language but in our current usage of it.
Our people have survived pillage and plunder over the centuries. At one point and at many points, all we had as a people was a faint memory of where we came from, and who we had been.
Our ancient capital, Teamhar, stood as a memory to when the people of that age on this island had a right to self-determination, even if it was in the context of its time.
Over the passage of years to the coming of the 11th Century pre-cursor of the more modern invader that was the Norman, our culture stood with its own system, its own criteria for governance.
This Island has ceased to be inhabited by the Gael as it was. Now we are considered primarily as Irish. But the ancient tensions have now arisen again where Gael is pitted against mere Irish, and disgraceful indifference to past pain, history and national trauma is displayed by those that take Fáil's name.
I hope that history will allow us to preserve what was to our ancestors what freedom and independence is to many today. In the valley beneath Teamhar lie the dreams of a nation. Not just a nation gone, but a nation present.
It is a reminder of the compromise and loss that we live with today, that there are those that would sacrifice such sacred ground with a policy of scorched earth that past enemies would have been proud of.
Make no mistake, if this atrocity is averted it will not be remembered. But if the indifferent scourge of past centuries is to follow us into this, a new millennium, it will be remembered. When Teamhar fell we had no choice — now it is threatened by an attitude the Mac Murrough was possessed of.
To those that would deface your ancestry, remember that you too will someday meet your ancestors. To those that revere their ancestry I would say this — Tá an striapach allúrach fós inar measc.
Daire Mac Fhearghusa,
All-Ireland Fans 5-a-side
Fans from Irish League and the Eircom League teams will play a 5-a-side competition to promote the idea of an All-Ireland competition for teams in both leagues.
Teams from Glenavon, Linfield and Bangor in the Irish League, and Bohemians, Cork City and Derry City in the Eircom League will compete in this inaugural event.
While the Setanta Cup is a good start, we feel it is too limited and restrictive. We want a competition open to all league teams, not a competition that only rewards the top teams in each league.
Another of our aims is to highlight the similarities in fans from all communities. We all love football, and our teams; we are all pulling in the same direction, no matter which community or background we have.
We can also confirm that some players who have played in both leagues will act as referees on the day: Tony Grant, Stephen Caffrey and Dermott O'Neill.
The event will take place at AstroPark, Coolock, Dublin, on Sunday 1 May, starting at 2pm.
Bohemian FC PR Department,